A man with close links to Islamic fundamentalism and the backing of prominent racists could this week be elected as the executive mayor of a council, with almost total control over its $1.6 billion budget. The EDL patriots will be there to protest.
UK TELEGRAPH – Lutfur Rahman was sacked by the Labour Party last month as its candidate for mayor of Tower Hamlets amid deep concerns about his links with a Muslim supremacist group, the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), and a number of powerful local businessmen.
Mr Rahman also signed up entire families of “sham” paper Labour members – some of whom do not even support the party – to win nomination as Labour’s candidate. Mr Rahman is now running as an independent and his supporters say he is “hopeful” of victory. “Things look very good,” said one of his major business backers, Shiraj Haque, a millionaire restaurateur.
Labour sources said the contest between Mr Rahman and their new candidate, Helal Abbas, was “extremely close” and would depend on turnout in Thursday’s election.
Unlike a conventional leader, a directly-elected mayor has almost complete power over a council’s finances and cannot be controlled, checked or sacked by councillors.Tower Hamlets moved from a conventional leader system to a mayoralty this year as a result of a campaign spearheaded by the IFE.
In secret filming earlier this year, Abu Talha, an IFE activist, told an undercover reporter for The Sunday Telegraph and Channel 4’sDispatches: “The mayor is going to have a lot more control. That’s why we need to get someone, one of our brothers, in there. Which we will do.”
According to one of its own leaflets, the IFE – based at the hardline East London Mosque in Tower Hamlets – wants to change the “very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed … from ignorance to Islam.”
Mr Rahman, a former council leader, was removed from that post by his fellow councillors in May after The Sunday Telegraph and Dispatchesexposed how he had achieved the position with the help of the IFE. Six serving and former Labour councillors told us they had been threatened by a senior IFE official that the group would mobilise its supporters against them if they did not choose Mr Rahman as their leader.
During Mr Rahman’s two years as council leader, Tower Hamlets channelled millions of pounds of public money to front organisations run by the IFE. The borough’s public libraries stocked large quantities of extremist literature, including taped sermons by the spiritual leader of the 9/11 hijackers, Anwar al-Awlaki. An anti-gay preacher was hosted in the council chamber.
Mr Rahman said that if elected he would “work to bring together our diverse communities”. However, one of his leading supporters, Wais Islam, a former Tower Hamlets councillor, recently posted anti-Semitic insults about a local journalist on his Facebook page. Another prominent Tower Hamlets racist, Abul Hussain – expelled from George Galloway’s Respect party for making anti-Semitic remarks – has organised campaign meetings on Mr Rahman’s behalf.